From the Desk of Zoe Washington
Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?A crime he says he never committed.Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington Details

TitleFrom the Desk of Zoe Washington
Author
ReleaseJan 14th, 2020
PublisherKatherine Tegen Books
ISBN-139780062875853
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Contemporary, Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Fiction

From the Desk of Zoe Washington Review

  • Tanya
    January 1, 1970
    I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to read this pitch perfect debut, by Janae Marks. Zoe is the kind of protagonist I love in middle grade books—ambitious, curious, strong—what I would describe as a take-charge kinda gal. She loves baking, which, hello, makes her the kind of kid I would have loved to be friends with in middle school. Not only does she love to bake, but she dreams of joining a junior baking competition, so that one day she can become a professional pastry chef. But her I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to read this pitch perfect debut, by Janae Marks. Zoe is the kind of protagonist I love in middle grade books—ambitious, curious, strong—what I would describe as a take-charge kinda gal. She loves baking, which, hello, makes her the kind of kid I would have loved to be friends with in middle school. Not only does she love to bake, but she dreams of joining a junior baking competition, so that one day she can become a professional pastry chef. But her dreams get placed on the back burner when she discovers a letter in her mailbox from her biological father, who has been convicted of murder. At first, she doesn't want to have anything to do with him. But her curiosity starts gnawing on her, so she decides to write him back. That letter is the first of many, and as she gets to know him, she discovers that he's been wrongly convicted. Zoe makes it her mission, to find the evidence needed to set her biological father free. In the process, we get to know other members of her family, especially her grandmother, who is sympathetic to her plight, as well as her neighbor and friend, Trevor, who she enlists to help her. While reading, I found myself cheering Zoe on, as she investigated the crime, and also in her quest to create her very own original cupcake recipe, which by the way, sounds totally delicious. I know my own kid would love to gobble up a Fruit Loops cereal cupcake. If you love headstrong middle grade protagonists, contemporary stories dealing with real-life issues such as racism, wrongful conviction, mixed race blended families, and anything to do with baking, then I would definitely recommend you pick up, FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON.
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  • Kate O'Shaughnessy
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. Wow.I LOVED this book!Budding 12-year-old pastry chef Zoe Washington receives a letter on her birthday from her incarcerated father, Marcus... and it's the first time she's ever heard from him. He's in jail for a violent crime, but as Zoe continues to correspond with him, she starts to wonder if he might actually be innocent after all.This book is about love, the highs and lows of friendship, baking (be ready to have intense cupcake cravings), complex family relationships, and the Wow. Wow.I LOVED this book!Budding 12-year-old pastry chef Zoe Washington receives a letter on her birthday from her incarcerated father, Marcus... and it's the first time she's ever heard from him. He's in jail for a violent crime, but as Zoe continues to correspond with him, she starts to wonder if he might actually be innocent after all.This book is about love, the highs and lows of friendship, baking (be ready to have intense cupcake cravings), complex family relationships, and the importance of taking a stand. The masterful way the author weaves in themes of social justice throughout Zoe's very personal journey will allow kids to come to conclusions about racism within our judicial and prison systems *themselves,* which is a powerful tool to give a child. Zoe is such an proactive protagonist, and I can see kids reading this in classrooms across the country, galvanized to take a stand--because Zoe shows us that you're never too young to make a big difference.5/5 stars!
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC provided by Edelweiss PlusZoe lives in Boston with her mother and stepfather. Her best friend, Trevor, lives next door, but as summer starts, Zoe is still smarting from comments she heard Trevor make to his sporty friends about her, so she doesn't want to hang out with him. Luckily, her mother has a friend who runs a bakery, and Zoe has the opportunity to spend time there honing her skills so she can try out for a kids' version of a baking reality show. Unfortunately, she spends more of E ARC provided by Edelweiss PlusZoe lives in Boston with her mother and stepfather. Her best friend, Trevor, lives next door, but as summer starts, Zoe is still smarting from comments she heard Trevor make to his sporty friends about her, so she doesn't want to hang out with him. Luckily, her mother has a friend who runs a bakery, and Zoe has the opportunity to spend time there honing her skills so she can try out for a kids' version of a baking reality show. Unfortunately, she spends more of her time folding boxes than scooping batter, since the other workers don't trust a kid. When a letter arrives for her and turns out to be from the father she has never met because he is in prison, Zoe is curious and writes back. Her father seems very nice, and she slowly gets some more information about the murder he is accused of committing. Sure that her father is telling the truth that he didn't do it, she starts to investigate some leads, going with Trevor to find a women who remembers meeting him when she posted an ad on Craigslist. Her grandmother has been helping Zoe get the letters, but eventually the two have to come clean to her mom. Armed with her evidence, the family goes to Project Innocence to try to get her father released. Strengths: My readers will be very happy to find a book about an African American girl who is solidly middle class. I've been looking for books like this for years, and have been glad to see titles like Love Like Sky, Blended, and Some Places More than Others that don't take place in the inner city. Baking books do fairly well, so readers will enjoy trying out some of Zoe's recipes for Froot Loop cupcakes, and the details about having a parent in prison are thought provoking. Weaknesses: Several things seemed far fetched to me, although they won't to younger readers. There are a lot more boy-girl best friends in books than in real life, the internship at the bakery seemed unlikely, although the way Zoe was received was realistic, it was surprising that the grandmother helped her keep information from her parents, and Zoe has a lot of luck in her investigations. What I really think: This has a fantastic cover, so I would purchase it just for that. It's a solid story, and I'll be looking forward to seeing what else Ms. Marks writes, but it didn't knock my socks off the way Front Desk did. (The publisher's description compares it to this.)
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  • Afoma Umesi
    January 1, 1970
    LOVE LOVE LOVE. MORE TO COME.Review on 14/01/20. Thanks to the publisher for an e-ARC of this novel.From the Desk of Zoe Washington is a moving, true-to-life middle-grade novel that highlights just how potent perseverance can be — even when you’re just twelve. This book is one of those middle-grade novels that tackles issues without taking away the joy of the mundane.Debut author Janae Marks explores parental incarceration, wrongful imprisonment, friendship missteps, and more in this novel. I LOVE LOVE LOVE. MORE TO COME.Review on 14/01/20. Thanks to the publisher for an e-ARC of this novel.From the Desk of Zoe Washington is a moving, true-to-life middle-grade novel that highlights just how potent perseverance can be — even when you’re just twelve. This book is one of those middle-grade novels that tackles issues without taking away the joy of the mundane.Debut author Janae Marks explores parental incarceration, wrongful imprisonment, friendship missteps, and more in this novel. I couldn’t help but think of Alicia D. Williams’s Genesis Begins Again . Zoe jumps off the page as much as Genesis does. I highly — oh so highly — recommend this novel.Read my full review on the blog.
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  • Arianne Costner
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this one! Zoe is a great, strong character with a spot-on voice. The pacing kept me turning pages the whole time. There is a lot of intrigue to keep the reader interested. The way her relationship develops with her dad is so sweet, and the ending is really satisfying. Grandma might’ve been my favorite character Also, the food descriptions were scrumptious. Can someone please make me a fruit loops cupcake? Loved this one! Zoe is a great, strong character with a spot-on voice. The pacing kept me turning pages the whole time. There is a lot of intrigue to keep the reader interested. The way her relationship develops with her dad is so sweet, and the ending is really satisfying. Grandma might’ve been my favorite character 😁Also, the food descriptions were scrumptious. Can someone please make me a fruit loops cupcake?
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  • Kim Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    Fabulously written and such a heart warming story. I was fortunate to have an advanced readers copy and just fell in love with Zoe and her dreams of being a pastry chef. Zoe finally receives a letter from her father for the first time who is incarcerated for a violent crime. The writer carefully crafted a heart warming story that is very approachable to the middle grade age and is much more hopeful and heartfelt than you might assume. Zoe is a full blown character who is spunky, determined, and Fabulously written and such a heart warming story. I was fortunate to have an advanced readers copy and just fell in love with Zoe and her dreams of being a pastry chef. Zoe finally receives a letter from her father for the first time who is incarcerated for a violent crime. The writer carefully crafted a heart warming story that is very approachable to the middle grade age and is much more hopeful and heartfelt than you might assume. Zoe is a full blown character who is spunky, determined, and has big dreams about becoming a pastry chef. Reader be weary that it might induce cravings for cupcakes and baked goods, but it's also what makes the story delightful and inspiring for young readers to think about taking on your dreams. Throughout Zoe's journey of having an internship at a bakery, the story grounds itself in what an amazing kid Zoe is, and wonder about her life having never met her father. When she receives her letter from her father and begins to communicate with him regularly it allows the reader to experience the hope, the doubt, the million questions that would flutter to a young person interacting with their father for the first time. Really sweat moments as Zoe learns more about her fathers love for her and his claim of innocence. This is a story that leaves a reader with hope and happiness. A must read!
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  • Cindy
    January 1, 1970
    Every now and then, I read a middle grade book that is engaging, well-written, and fun to read, AND deals with issues so unique and important that I wish I could shove it into the hands of everyone I know. FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON is exactly that kind of book. Much of Zoe's life is pretty normal—she loves to bake and is thrilled to land a summer internship at a real bakery; she's on the outs with her best friend after an incident earlier in the summer; she longs for more responsibility Every now and then, I read a middle grade book that is engaging, well-written, and fun to read, AND deals with issues so unique and important that I wish I could shove it into the hands of everyone I know. FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON is exactly that kind of book. Much of Zoe's life is pretty normal—she loves to bake and is thrilled to land a summer internship at a real bakery; she's on the outs with her best friend after an incident earlier in the summer; she longs for more responsibility and freedom now that she's twelve years old.But one thing about Zoe's life is very, very different from most middle grade characters: Zoe's biological father, Marcus, has spent twelve years in prison for murder. And on her twelfth birthday, Zoe gets a letter from him—and with that letter, realizes just how much more there is to Marcus's story than she has ever known.Mass incarceration of Black and brown men, and wrongful convictions, are issues that are extremely relevant in the U.S. right now. FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON takes these topics on with grace, courage, and an enormous amount of compassion. Janae Marks deftly adds layer after layer of nuance to Marcus's case, as well as to his relationship with Zoe; the book tackles big issues without ever feeling either heavy-handed or depressing. Zoe's irrepressible spirit and determination to get to the bottom of Marcus's story is inspiring and uplifting. FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON is an absolutely perfect way to introduce the issue of mass incarceration to young readers. Five enthusiastic stars!
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  • Briana
    January 1, 1970
    Zoe is so inspiring, determined, and full of heart. I loved how this book balanced deep and sweet relationships with the very real and important issues surrounding wrongful convictions - and that PoC are vastly more likely to be wrongfully convicted and abused by the justice system. Zoe's story not only brings light to the issue, but will empower young readers to make the changes they want to see in the world.
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  • Cathleen Barnhart
    January 1, 1970
    Janae Marks’ wonderful debut is an important and timely novel about systemic racism in the U.S that will engage middle school readers and have them both rooting for the main character, Zoe Washington, and questioning this country’s system of mass incarceration. Middle schoolers will relate to Zoe: she has dreams and goals; she’s currently not speaking to her best friend, Trevor, because he said something really mean about her; and she loves her parents but doesn’t always agree with them. On her Janae Marks’ wonderful debut is an important and timely novel about systemic racism in the U.S that will engage middle school readers and have them both rooting for the main character, Zoe Washington, and questioning this country’s system of mass incarceration. Middle schoolers will relate to Zoe: she has dreams and goals; she’s currently not speaking to her best friend, Trevor, because he said something really mean about her; and she loves her parents but doesn’t always agree with them. On her twelfth birthday, Zoe gets a letter in the mail from the biological dad she’s never met because h’e in prison for murder, a murder he says he didn’t commit. As Zoe begins a secret correspondence with her dad, she’s also trying to repair her friendship, make a good impression at her bakery internship and maybe win a spot in a national baking competition. .This novel should be in every middle school library and classroom. If it’s not on your Goodreads tbr list, add it!
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  • Anuradha Rajurkar
    January 1, 1970
    I read an early copy of this powerful debut, and I can't recommend it highly enough! The writing is clear and impactful, the characterization is pitch-perfect, and both plotting and premise make for a captivating read. I am blown away by this story.Middle-school protagonist Zoe lives happily with her mother and stepfather, loves to bake, and dreams of being on a kids baking competition show. On her twelfth birthday, she receives a letter in the mail from Marcus, the biological father she's never I read an early copy of this powerful debut, and I can't recommend it highly enough! The writing is clear and impactful, the characterization is pitch-perfect, and both plotting and premise make for a captivating read. I am blown away by this story.Middle-school protagonist Zoe lives happily with her mother and stepfather, loves to bake, and dreams of being on a kids baking competition show. On her twelfth birthday, she receives a letter in the mail from Marcus, the biological father she's never met, who is in prison for a crime Zoe knows almost nothing about. Intrigued, she begins secretly corresponding with Marcus, and over time, learns that the crime Marcus is in prison for is worse than she imagined. To top it off: he may be innocent of the crime. Zoe is an unforgettable character who is thoughtful, clever, strong, and determined as she secretly begins investigating the details leading up to Marcus's arrest all those years ago. The letters written between Zoe and Marcus are an awesome vehicle for their growing relationship while creating tension throughout. I also appreciated the character nuances of Zoe’s grandmother, who serves as constant support to Zoe. Mid-story, Zoe and a friend travel to meet someone who might serve as an alibi for Marcus, providing an interesting new setting while keeping things pacey. Zoe’s passion for baking throughout serves as a beautiful, impactful metaphor, and the resolution with Marcus, Zoe’s family, and Zoe's friendships is surprising, heartfelt and satisfying. So many important themes were handled with utmost respect and honesty: family, the desire to learn about one’s biological parent, wrongful imprisonment, racism, friendship, taking a stand, and so much more. I was riveted by this important book and can’t wait to watch it soar!
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  • Shannon Doleski
    January 1, 1970
    Oh I got to read this book before its release date, and it is lovely, lovely, lovely.This book is two books in one - it is both a fun, sweet story of a girl who takes charge of her baking dream and a necessary, tough look at our justice system. Marks balances both expertly. Zoe is a little force and a terrific middle grade narrator. I loved her best when she was defying her parents. I think readers will too ;) Listen you might be tempted to eat all the sweets while you read. And it's got a Oh I got to read this book before its release date, and it is lovely, lovely, lovely.This book is two books in one - it is both a fun, sweet story of a girl who takes charge of her baking dream and a necessary, tough look at our justice system. Marks balances both expertly. Zoe is a little force and a terrific middle grade narrator. I loved her best when she was defying her parents. I think readers will too ;) Listen you might be tempted to eat all the sweets while you read. And it's got a banging soundtrack.
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  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    So sweet and lovely. My 9yo says this is in her top 2 So sweet and lovely. My 9yo says this is in her top 2 😍
  • Darla
    January 1, 1970
    Zoe Washington just turned twelve and she has big plans. She wants to be on a kid's baking show, publish her own cookbook, and become a famous pastry chef. An internship at a local bakery will give her opportunities to work toward those aspirations. When a letter addressed to her from her bio dad appears in the mail on her birthday, she channels some of that energy in another direction -- proving her dad is innocent despite his conviction as a murderer before she was born. What this book does Zoe Washington just turned twelve and she has big plans. She wants to be on a kid's baking show, publish her own cookbook, and become a famous pastry chef. An internship at a local bakery will give her opportunities to work toward those aspirations. When a letter addressed to her from her bio dad appears in the mail on her birthday, she channels some of that energy in another direction -- proving her dad is innocent despite his conviction as a murderer before she was born. What this book does very well is show kids the hard work it takes to be successful in a business like a bakery. Zoe does a lot of tinkering to develop her own special cupcake recipe in the book. Another aspect that is covered appropriately for middle grades is the issue of wrongful convictions and the efforts being made on their behalf by the Innocence Project (John Grisham's new title "The Guardians" does a great job covering this issue for adults, BTW). What I found to be disappointing was the offhand way that the author informs kids about the Black Lives Matter movement. As a police officer's wife I find the following quote to be inflammatory and insufficient: "I knew about the Black Lives Matter movement, how Black people all over the country were getting shot by police for no good reason. If those police officers weren't going to jail, then it made sense that the whole prison system was messed up." If I knew this were not in the final edition, I would award another star.Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Ms. Woc Reader
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't really sure what to expect with this story when I requested it. The cover was striking and it caught my eye right away. I also liked that it featured a bit of mystery in synopsis. Incarceration of innocent black men is a tough topic to tackle. It's an important conversation that we need to have but often people just don't want to hear. I think black readers are often bombarded with this news on a daily basis that it wears on them. This book was different because Marcus being in prison I wasn't really sure what to expect with this story when I requested it. The cover was striking and it caught my eye right away. I also liked that it featured a bit of mystery in synopsis. Incarceration of innocent black men is a tough topic to tackle. It's an important conversation that we need to have but often people just don't want to hear. I think black readers are often bombarded with this news on a daily basis that it wears on them. This book was different because Marcus being in prison wasn't the sole focus. Zoe had hopes, dreams, and a life outside of just helping this new father she was learning about. There was a great balance between Zoe working on her cupcake recipes and wanting to do more at the bakeshop. She also is reconnecting with her friend Trevor who she fell out with during the school year.Overall I think this book was a great introduction to young readers to the Innocence Project and let's them know that you are never to young to make a difference.I received an arc from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Francesca Flores
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so incredible! Zoe has such a strong voice that pulls you in and makes you want to know more about her-the passion she has for baking, her love for her family, and of course, the new emotions she experiences upon receiving a letter from her father, who's in prison. The emotion during the scenes where she read and wrote these letters just leapt off the page, and some of these scenes definitely made me tear up. Her dad's love for her and longing to be in her life were so strongly This book was so incredible! Zoe has such a strong voice that pulls you in and makes you want to know more about her-the passion she has for baking, her love for her family, and of course, the new emotions she experiences upon receiving a letter from her father, who's in prison. The emotion during the scenes where she read and wrote these letters just leapt off the page, and some of these scenes definitely made me tear up. Her dad's love for her and longing to be in her life were so strongly present in the letters. It was very powerful seeing Zoe realize, on the page, how her father might be innocent, how racism infects the criminal justice system, and how SHE could make a change. This is one of my favorite books I've read this year, and I was rooting for Zoe from the very beginning. If that hasn't convinced you, there are drool-worthy descriptions of cupcakes and other goodies all throughout the book. I really want to try the recipe Zoe came up with!
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  • Kathie
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to #Edelweiss+ and Katherine Tegen books for an eARC of this book. FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON is the author’s middle grade debut, and what a way kick off her publishing career! I love that Zoe is passionate about baking, and desperately wants to be on the Food Network Kids Bake Challenge (I even made cupcakes inspired by her recipe, and hope there will be a recipe included in the final copy of the book). She even gets an opportunity to intern at a bakery, though it’s not quite how Thank you to #Edelweiss+ and Katherine Tegen books for an eARC of this book. FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON is the author’s middle grade debut, and what a way kick off her publishing career! I love that Zoe is passionate about baking, and desperately wants to be on the Food Network Kids Bake Challenge (I even made cupcakes inspired by her recipe, and hope there will be a recipe included in the final copy of the book). She even gets an opportunity to intern at a bakery, though it’s not quite how she imagined it would be. She also hasn’t been speaking to her best friend and next door neighbor, Trevor, after she overheard a hurtful comment he made. But when Zoe accidentally discovers a letter that her biological dad, Marcus, wrote to her from prison (where he’s incarcerated for murder) the story takes an unexpected turn. She starts a secret relationship with him, and desperately needs to figure out if he really committed the crime of which he’s accused, which leads to a mystery that made it hard to put this book down. It’s a wonderful combination of the life of an average middle schooler, mixed with some tough topics, but it’s presented in a way that never feels too heavy for young readers to handle.With a stunning cover, and a 5 star story, I predict this will be a very popular book in 2020.
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  • Julianne DeSilva
    January 1, 1970
    I read an advanced reader copy of this book and I LOVED IT. It tackles so many issues, and does so with such poise. Zoe's father, Marcus, has been incarcerated since before she was born, jailed for a crime he says he did not commit. Zoe begins to research the crime, bent on determining if Marcus is telling the truth. I think Janae Marks does an incredible job of tackling such a heavy subject, making Zoe brave, but also vulnerable. I also love that despite all of this heavy subject matter, Zoe is I read an advanced reader copy of this book and I LOVED IT. It tackles so many issues, and does so with such poise. Zoe's father, Marcus, has been incarcerated since before she was born, jailed for a crime he says he did not commit. Zoe begins to research the crime, bent on determining if Marcus is telling the truth. I think Janae Marks does an incredible job of tackling such a heavy subject, making Zoe brave, but also vulnerable. I also love that despite all of this heavy subject matter, Zoe is still just a regular kid. She loves her dog, her grandmother, and baking, and is having trouble with her former best friend, who doesn't seem to understand why Zoe is mad at him. Books like these are so fantastic because they open up middle grade readers' minds to different issues, while still being relatable if the characters might be experiencing something outside of their knowledge. So fantastic!
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  • Kaela Noel
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky to read an advance copy of From the Desk of Zoe Washington. Wow! Brisk, precisely written, with not a word out of place—this is a great and satisfying novel. I particularly loved Zoe's biological dad's character. He felt very real, and Zoe's complicated feelings about him were well handled, as was the involvement of her grandmother. The story deals with serious issues, but also feels somewhat gentle in tone and right for a middle grade audience. I also really love books that include I was lucky to read an advance copy of From the Desk of Zoe Washington. Wow! Brisk, precisely written, with not a word out of place—this is a great and satisfying novel. I particularly loved Zoe's biological dad's character. He felt very real, and Zoe's complicated feelings about him were well handled, as was the involvement of her grandmother. The story deals with serious issues, but also feels somewhat gentle in tone and right for a middle grade audience. I also really love books that include solid knowledge of a craft or skill woven into the plot—and Marks does this flawlessly by including professional-level information on baking. Technical details are not glossed over in the scenes set at the bakery where Zoe gets an internship, and it's assumed middle grade readers are sophisticated enough to appreciate and understand that (which they are!) I really like that.
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  • Suzanne Nelson
    January 1, 1970
    What a timely, engaging, and tender middle-grade novel! Zoe Washington is a strong protagonist determined to face challenging family and friendship dilemmas without giving up, and she overcomes obstacles that even the adults in the story are having a difficult time facing. Zoe’s family and friendship issues are realistic, deftly-drawn, and poignant, and her passion for baking adds fun and inventive elements to her story as well. The book is also a platform for some important discussions about What a timely, engaging, and tender middle-grade novel! Zoe Washington is a strong protagonist determined to face challenging family and friendship dilemmas without giving up, and she overcomes obstacles that even the adults in the story are having a difficult time facing. Zoe’s family and friendship issues are realistic, deftly-drawn, and poignant, and her passion for baking adds fun and inventive elements to her story as well. The book is also a platform for some important discussions about some of today’s social and criminal justice issues. I highly recommend it!
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  • Ava
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely marvelous!! I loved this book so, so much, and I have to admit, I almost cried happy tears at the end. Janae Marks did a phenomenal job with this book, and I definitely recommend this book to anyone!
  • Laura (bbliophile)
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this one a lot! Full review to come.
  • Karen Fortunati
    January 1, 1970
    I adored everything about this spectacular debut by Janae Marks. Smart, funny, honest - Zoe grabs the heart from the first page! Beautifully and sensitively written, Zoe's quest to learn more about her birth father hits all the right notes and wonderfully gets critical topics on reader's radars! A must read for any middle-grader!
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  • Tory
    January 1, 1970
    SO STINKING GOOD. SO NECESSARY. SO POWERFUL. A+++++"But it was like when you drew something in pencil andthen tried to erase it -- the pencil lines would mostly goaway, but sometimes the indent would still be there, soyou could still sort of see what had been erased. That'show Trevor's apology felt -- like he was trying to erase mypain by saying he was sorry, but he couldn't make it alldisappear.[...]Maybe the pencil marks couldn't be erased, but at some point, you could decide to turn to a new SO STINKING GOOD. SO NECESSARY. SO POWERFUL. A+++++"But it was like when you drew something in pencil and then tried to erase it -- the pencil lines would mostly go away, but sometimes the indent would still be there, so you could still sort of see what had been erased. That's how Trevor's apology felt -- like he was trying to erase my pain by saying he was sorry, but he couldn't make it all disappear.[...]Maybe the pencil marks couldn't be erased, but at some point, you could decide to turn to a new page." p. 119-120
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  • Lorie Barber
    January 1, 1970
    BRILLIANT, RELEVANT DEBUT!!!Yes, I'm shouting. I want to get your attention so you buy this book and read it. The plot is crisp with wonderful pacing, the friendship subplot was also engaging, and the naming of racism and systemic racism is what kids need to be reading and talking about today.This one's out Tuesday. I can't WAIT to talk this book with my students.
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  • Shannon Takaoka
    January 1, 1970
    I read FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON together with my 10-year-old son, and we both loved it so, so much. The story is set in motion when Zoe gets a letter from her biological father Marcus, from prison, on her 12th birthday. At first she’s surprised and even a little scared – she doesn’t know much about him or the crime that he’s in in prison for. But her desire to get to know her father soon sends her on a journey where she has to be open to questioning what she’s been told about him and his I read FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON together with my 10-year-old son, and we both loved it so, so much. The story is set in motion when Zoe gets a letter from her biological father Marcus, from prison, on her 12th birthday. At first she’s surprised and even a little scared – she doesn’t know much about him or the crime that he’s in in prison for. But her desire to get to know her father soon sends her on a journey where she has to be open to questioning what she’s been told about him and his crime, resourceful about uncovering the truth and brave enough to take a stand. Through the lens of Zoe’s family and friends, Janae Marks explores some big issues – racism, institutionalized injustice, the importance of forgiveness – in a way that’s both empathetic and very accessible to kids. And the baking subplot is icing on the cake. ☺ I know a story has captured my kid’s heart when he asks me to keep going for “one more chapter” before bed and keeps talking all about it and asking questions. Two thumbs up from both of us!
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  • Books4life12
    January 1, 1970
    I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of this book and could not recommend it more highly. The story is both well-written and engaging, certain to capture the attention of middle-school-aged readers. While the story of Zoe's friendship drama and baking dreams is fun and interesting, what will really interest readers is sure to be the story of Zoe's father, a man who's been in prison her whole life. This book is a great starting off point for discussion about the justice system in I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of this book and could not recommend it more highly. The story is both well-written and engaging, certain to capture the attention of middle-school-aged readers. While the story of Zoe's friendship drama and baking dreams is fun and interesting, what will really interest readers is sure to be the story of Zoe's father, a man who's been in prison her whole life. This book is a great starting off point for discussion about the justice system in America, the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" and the way race plays into policing and politics. It makes these intense topics understandable for younger readers, and drive further discussion. I would recommend this book for all librarians and parents of middle-schoolers. 5 stars!
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  • Sheila Averbuch
    January 1, 1970
    An eye-opener (and tear-jerker) of a book that young readers will love: not everyone in jail deserves to be there. This story of 12-year old Zoe striking up a pen pal relationship with her incarcerated biological father is a book for our times, if ever there was one. A beautiful story full of hope. You'll probably cry, like I did, but it's worth it.
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  • Tanita Davis
    January 1, 1970
    EXCEPTIONAL. What a privilege to get to be an early reader!
  • Laurie Hnatiuk
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to the Edelweiss+, Katherine Tegen Books and author Janae Marks for sharing a digital ARC with me.Slightly over 300 pages, this book read quickly - you don’t want to put it down. Zoe lives with her mom and stepfather, and loves to bake. She has plans and focused, she is going to get her own cookbook and hopes to be a contestant on a Kids Baking Show. All of this changes when she inadvertently intercepts a letter from her biological father who is incarcerated for a horrible crime. It is Thank you to the Edelweiss+, Katherine Tegen Books and author Janae Marks for sharing a digital ARC with me.Slightly over 300 pages, this book read quickly - you don’t want to put it down. Zoe lives with her mom and stepfather, and loves to bake. She has plans and focused, she is going to get her own cookbook and hopes to be a contestant on a Kids Baking Show. All of this changes when she inadvertently intercepts a letter from her biological father who is incarcerated for a horrible crime. It is from her father Marcus wishing her a Happy 12 Birthday and even though he has never received a reply from all the letters he has written he hopes she is well and that he will continue to write.Now Zoe is curious and full of questions. What did he mean by all the other letters he has written? How can you trust a man in jail? How do you reply to a letter when you are full of questions and unsure of who to trust?And so Zoe writes back without letting her parents know and begins to get to know Marcus. With the help of her grandmother she speaks with Marcus and now has questions of a different kind, about how an innocent man can be put into jail. Zoe believes Marcus when he states he is innocent and is determined to get to the truth and free Marcus.Part social justice, part mystery mixed in with creating a new recipe, friendship troubles, and hiding and lying to her parents, Zoe has a full plate. Readers will be turning the pages to see how she will juggle all of these balls and what will happen if one or more come crashing down.This is another story that will draw in many readers and allow them to see connections about the justice system and racism without it being too heavy. This will be a popular read in schools and classrooms. A phenomenal debut book and I look forward to reading more from Janae Marks.
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  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    Zoe is an inquisitive, strong, passionately determined twelve-year-old, and a talented baker to boot! In Janae Marks’ riveting debut, FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON (releasing 1/14/20), you’ll admire Zoe’s grit as she seeks the truth to her fathers incarceration when she chooses to respond to a letter she receives from him on her birthday. While this new communication weighs heavy on her mind, Zoe is also trying to perfect her baking skills to become a contestant on a Food Network show for Zoe is an inquisitive, strong, passionately determined twelve-year-old, and a talented baker to boot! In Janae Marks’ riveting debut, FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON (releasing 1/14/20), you’ll admire Zoe’s grit as she seeks the truth to her fathers incarceration when she chooses to respond to a letter she receives from him on her birthday. While this new communication weighs heavy on her mind, Zoe is also trying to perfect her baking skills to become a contestant on a Food Network show for kids. Zoe has such a great voice—honest, curious, and sometimes stubborn—which can be found in her writing as well. I enjoyed the bond she has with her grandmother and the mutual respect they showed each other. Themes of social injustice and racism are made accessible to the middle grade reader with fantastic writing from Janae Marks who expertly engages with a well-thought out/researched plot. I especially liked the soundtrack, if you will, to this story and the role music plays. If I knew how to actually use Spotify, I’d jam to Zoe’s playlist while attempting to bake my own cupcake masterpieces! FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON is an important, necessary, and timely read encouraging readers to find truth, persevere, and stand up for what is right.
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